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Austria audition goes perfectly for O'Neill as Ireland outclass Uruguay

20:06 BST 04/06/2017
Jon Walters Cyrus Christie Republic of Ireland Uruguay 04062017
The Boys in Green recorded a comfortable and convincing victory over their South American opponents, putting them in good spirits for next week's game


Before the Republic of Ireland took on Uruguay, Boys in Green boss Martin O'Neill repeated the mantra that the result is all that matters in football. It is something that has been evident from his tenure as Ireland manager, with dogged, gritty and sometimes lucky performances churning out wins and draws. But ahead of Ireland's crucial World Cup qualifer with Austria, he got more than he bargained for.

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From the start, Ireland were composed on the ball, pushing and harrying, and most importantly, keeping possession. Far too long under O'Neill and previous managers, Ireland have been happy to let the opposition have the ball and wait for a chance to counter-attack or else punt it forward to Shane Long. That approach actually inspired the 1-0 win over world champions Germany that helped the Boys in Green reach Euro 2016.

However, that Ireland was not on display at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin against Uruguay.

Having seen his fringe players lose 3-1 to Mexico in what essentially was a training match-cum-holiday in New Jersey, Ireland were buoyed by the return of their Premier League names. Robbie Brady and Harry Arter pulled the strings, while Jon Walters scored a sensational goal as he captained the team in the absence of injured Seamus Coleman.

Walters' presence up front also meant that Ireland lacked the usual pace of Long, meaning counter-attacks were less likely, and they actually had to attempt clever football. Brady and Arter were key to this, while full-backs Cyrus Christie and Stephen Ward provided width to help bring attacks forward. For once, Ireland were encouraging and entertaining to watch.

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"We've got the win. It's a confidence booster ahead of next week," said Walters afterwards.

"It's always nice to get a goal, but after the [Mexico] game in midweek, it's nice to get the win and get the confidence. It's always nice having that winning mentality, but it all counts for nothing if we don't win next week."

The Stoke City forward continued: "Uruguay are an excellent team. I thought we played very well tonight against them. It wasn't just about the win, but how we won as well.

"We're delighted with the win and how we won, but it's all eyes on next week now."

Uruguay were void of ideas for the most part, and without the injured Luis Suarez and an early exit for Edinson Cavani, created little in attack. Darren Randolph was at fault for Uruguay's goal which went into the net in slow motion after the West Ham shot-stopper punched the air, leaving Jose Gimenez a simple header.

Christie's goal was somewhat fortunate as well, but Walters and James McClean's were anything but. Walters curled in an effort Arjen Robben would be proud of, while McClean's pace allowed him beat the defender before finishing with aplomb.

O'Neill claims the result is all that matters, but he may have to change his mind after seeing his slick side in action against Uruguay. Here was a team which utterly deserved to win, showed what they could do in possession, and can surely take three points from Austria at the same venue in seven days time.